See more synonyms for mottle on
  1. a diversifying spot or blotch of color.
  2. mottled coloring or pattern.

Origin of mottle

First recorded in 1670–80; probably back formation from motley
Related formsmot·tle·ment, nounmot·tler, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for mottle

Historical Examples of mottle

  • Let God make His sunsets: I will mottle my little fading cloud.

  • Ginsburg put up his gloved hand and wiped clean a face that with passion had turned a mottle of red-and-white blotches.

    From Place to Place

    Irvin S. Cobb

  • Gangs of buffalo, herds of antelope, and droves of wild horses, mottle the far vistas.

British Dictionary definitions for mottle


  1. (tr) to colour with streaks or blotches of different shades
  1. a mottled appearance, as of the surface of marble
  2. one streak or blotch of colour in a mottled surface

Word Origin for mottle

C17: back formation from motley
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for mottle

1670s, probably a back-formation from motley.


1670s; see mottle (n.). Related: Mottled; mottling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper